Large Hadron Collider up and running; world not destroyed

Paul Raven @ 10-09-2008

But then you’d have to be a staggeringly ignorant fool to believe it would have been, anyway.

Yes, just as planned, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN was activated this morning… and while it hasn’t actually started doing collision tests yet, the boffins have been revving protons around the ring and checking everything works as it’s supposed to. And apparently, it’s going better than they had hoped. Here’s a computer representation of particles produced by protons smashing into collimators*:

Large Hadron Collider proton collision graphic

The Holy Grail of the Large Hadron Collider project is a subatomic particle known as the Higgs Boson, the conjectural key to the Unified Theory that physicists have been chasing after for years.

However, not everyone thinks it will be that simple – Steven Hawking himself has a $100 bet that the Higgs will not be found. Particle physics isn’t my field (arf!), but I’d be hesitant to bet against a guy with Hawkings’s track record. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. [image courtesy CERN via New Scientist article]

* – No, I’m not entirely sure what a collimator is, either. And I’ve probably mis-termed or described at least one thing wrong in the above post, because that’s what happens when writers try to report on Big Physics; I try my best, but I’m not on a journalist’s salary here. I’m sure some of our friendly readers in the field will correct any errors with their usual alacrity. 🙂